Monthly Archives: May 2004

Tax Cuts Fail Ohioans

According to a web site published by, Bush, during a visit to a Ohio factory last April, said “the future of this company is bright and therefore, the future of employment is bright for the families that work here.” He was trying to sell his tax cuts to the Ohioans. He said the tax cuts would help the economy.

The factory, which employs 1,300 workers, is shutting down.

Joe Biden Gets His Wish

On Sunday, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) said on “Meet the Press” it was time to take Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile who, according to some, said his intelligence sources were sure the Bushwackers would be greeted as liberators in Iraq, off the U.S. payroll. He got his wish and saved us more than $300,000 a month.

Two of the Best

Two reporters making news today are Sy Hersh of the New Yorker and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post. Hersh, without the benefit of pictures and the “60 minutes” venue to show them, broke the story of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Woodward’s latest coup is his inside the White House look at the planning and execution of the Iraqi War.

David Shaw, media critic of the Los Angeles Times calls them, “quite simply, the best and most influential reporters of their generation.”

But Shaw has qualms about Woodward’s use of anonymous sources and reporting conversation for Plan of Attack.
…[W]hat concerns me the most about his books is the way in which he re-creates, verbatim, all these conversations he did not personally participate in. He says he bases these re-creations on the memory of as many participants as possible and on the contemporaneous note-taking, if there was any.

“Where thoughts, judgments or feelings are attributed to participants, I have obtained these from the person directly, a colleague with firsthand knowledge or the written record,” [Woodward] says in Plan of Attack.

But as the childhood game Telephone has taught us all, even the most honest among us will not necessarily report accurately what we just said and/or heard.

Even a first person account is suspicious to me. It seems difficult to understand, for example, how Richard Clarke in Against All Enemies remembered word for word his White House conversations without taking detailed notes.

Renouncing Violence

President Bush, in a speech to a Jewish audience today, repeated the excuse why he lets Israel repeatedly kill women and children and destroy Palestinian homes: that first Palestinian leaders must renounce violence. He has often said the violence must stop as a pre-condition to a peace settlement in the Middle East.

If he thinks it’s so easy for Yasser Arafat to control the terrorists, why can’t we in Iraq?

Virginia News

Del. Steve Landes, he who championed the “long-standing tradition” of keeping tax decisions and budget decisions separate, is not my favorite Virginia delegate. But he has a point:

“There are legislators across the state, in the House and the Senate, who campaigned on the platform that they would not raise taxes, and then they went out and voted to do just that,” Landes said. “The question I have is, did something change between November and December to cause that turnaround? How can things change that fast to cause that sharp of a swing from one month to the next?

“The election was important for defining the issues that we were going to be facing,” Landes said. “This state hasn’t had a major tax increase since 1986. If this was coming down the road, as it clearly was, why was it that nobody was talking about it during the elections last fall?

“Elections are where these issues are supposed to be brought up and discussed. The voters have a right to know what’s going on, and they have a right to know so that they can decide which way they want to see things go,” Landes said.

The question remains how to have that conversation with voters who have an attention span of a gnat. It seems such a conversation requires 1/ time for the issue to be explored, 2/forums where such discussions can take place and attract voters and 3/ a press willing to investigate the tax issue in some depth. (Hint to The Washington Post: Maybe ask persons other than James Parmelee what they think).

I’m not suggesting that raising taxes should be on a candidates’ bumper stickers, but they certainly shouldn’t say they won’t consider it and then do so a few months later.

Virginia gays, probably wishing they lived in Massachusetts, plan to challenge our state’s new Marriage Affirmation Act. (An aside: My son, citing the Patriot Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, asked me last night why lawmakers seems to name laws in a way that imply the opposite of what they are intended to accomplish.)

But the law’s language has some concerned that it could effectively prohibit a variety of private contracts between two people of the same sex, regardless of their relationship.

The bill bans “a civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage.”

But, according to Dyana Mason, executive director of Equality Virginia, the state code does not define what the privileges and obligations of marriage are.

She fears that the bill’s language could prevent gay couples from naming each other in their wills, making each other the beneficiary of insurance policies, or writing medical directives that allow their partners to, for instance, visit them in the hospital.

…The bill’s sponsor, Del. Robert Marshall, R-Prince William County, said Equality Virginia’s plans to challenge the bill in court are “phony.”

“These people, they don’t want to convince anybody. They want to force their views on the rest of us; that’s why they’re going through the courts,” Marshall said.

Del. Marshall is reportedly barricading himself in his home to fend off any same sex marriage being forced on him. We pray that Equality Virginia keeps pressuring Marshall in hopes that he won’t come out of his house for the next Assembly session.

Tech is falling behind in research funding.

Roanoke Times takes on Bush’s tax and budget policies.

Will next year’s General Assembly session make this year’s look like a “slumber party” and argue the wrong issue?

Is this the real issue?

Gov. Warner was to hold another of his community forums this morning in Norfolk. You can catch him over next two days:

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Time: 1:30 pm
Location: Radford University
Cook Hall
Room #107
Jefferson Street entrance
Radford, Virginia

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Time: 12 pm
Location: Arlington County Courthouse Plaza
(government office building)
County Boardroom, Room #307
2100 Clarendon Blvd
Arlington, Virginia

Killing Escalates in Gaza


RAFAH, Gaza Strip – Israeli helicopters pounded this refugee camp with missiles and machine gun fire Tuesday, killing at least 12 Palestinians, eight of them armed, as troops searched houses in the largest Israeli offensive in Gaza in years.

…Security officials said earlier this week the army also plans to widen an Israeli patrol road between the camp and Egypt, which would entail demolishing rows of nearby houses.

Last week, Israel destroyed about 100 houses near the patrol road, making more than 1,000 Palestinians homeless and drawing worldwide condemnation, including rare criticism from the United States.

Read also The Washington Post’s editorial today that calls Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “reckless,” and Richard Cohen’s column in which he writes, “The settlements have made Israel crazy. … The Palestinian economy is flattened. So, too, is Israeli morale and its moral standing in the world.”


A Palestinian boy waits to be treated after Israeli missiles struck Gaza city on May 16, 2004. Israel’s top general threatened to destroy hundreds of Palestinian refugee homes after the Supreme Court cleared the way for demolitions in a flashpoint Israeli-held corridor on the Gaza-Egypt border.

Pernicious Right

A friend who I can fairly characterize as a liberal was nonetheless shocked when she read Lies and the Lying Liars… by Al Franken. She admitted “how naive I was about the shameless tactics of the Republicans. I am completely freaked out about what they have gotten away with….”

We now can see how that works even on a humble blog like this one.

On my recent post “Who’s Worse?” John K., who I believe is Republican, makes this comment, “Your [sic] the same guy who also called the 9-11 terrorists ‘courageous,’ right?”

Note the hedging as it puts it in a form of a question but strongly suggests I said that. I did not. He used the word courageous; I never described the terrorists as courageous.

My brief post (found here along with exchange of comments John and I had) noted what former security advisor Dick Clarke said in his book Against All Enemies: that the 9-11 terrorists, while evil in many ways, were not “cowardly.” John K. picked up on the dictionary definition that cowardly means “lacking courage.” So by my saying they were not cowardly, he interprets as meaning I believe they are courageous.

If one does not perform an act of courage today, does that mean that they spent the day being cowardly?

It’s one thing to mischaracterize the opposition by interpreting one vote as indicative of a political stance (e.g., Bush’s charge that John Kerry doesn’t want to protect American soldiers today because he voted against some weapons systems years ago), but it is wholly another thing to accuse people of saying something they never said. (See also my post Calling the Bushies)

There’s a reason the right is losing credibility, day by day, lie by lie.

Who’s Worse?

Who’s Worse? That seems to be the argument conservatives want to have about torture and beheadings. Yes, conservatives seem to say, our torture is wrong but give us a pass because our enemy is worse.

Is that what we’ve come to represent in the world: the lesser of two evils?

And it’s not just right wing wackos like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough who think the U.S. prisoner abuses are overblown. “50 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of independents and 26 percent of Dems say the press has paid too much attention to the prisoner scandal.”

I’m not sure how you spend too much time on a story that makes a mockery of one of the fundamental reasons Bush went to war: to fight evil. How can we win a fight if the world perceives us as simply less evil?

In a column by Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe, he says is “sickened as well by the relish with which this scandal is being exploited by those who think that the defeat of the Bush administration is an end that justifies just about any means.”

I find it ironic, to be charitable, that because those supporting Kerry would use the prisoner abuse scandal against Bush, they are sickly exploiting the issue. I am occasionally criticized on this blog for being too “strident,” as the most recent comment termed a post.

Remember the Clinton impeachment anyone? Remember the personal attacks on the man, not because he encouraged a climate of torture because of his disregard for humane rights and due process, but because he couldn’t keep his zipper zipped? Remember the GOP attacks on former Sen. Max Cleland, a triple amputee Vietnam vet who was portrayed as traitorous by the Bush attack machine? Remember the Bush questioning the patriotism of those who opposed the Iraqi war? Remember the recent attacks on John Kerry’s patriotism because of his involvement with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War?

If Republicans lament the stridency of political discourse, they have no one but themselves to blame. It all started with Lee Atwater and stoked by Bush I and his Willie Horton ads. It was fueled by Karl Rove and Company’s willingness to endanger the life of Joe Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame by revealing her CIA identity.

My guess is the defense of the right will be that, like Islamic fundamentalists, Bush’s critics are worse than whatever inspires Rove and Tom Delay, the mean House majority leader.

Less evil is not the platform on which I’d like my party to stand, much less be the foundation of this county.